Despite extensive public service motivation (PSM) research, our knowledge of PSM’s influence on individuals’ sector employment preferences is limited. Few studies examine this relationship by suitable research designs and the empirical findings are mixed. Using a sample of 718 Danish students of economics, political science, and law, this article tests (1) the relationship between PSM and attraction to public versus private sector employment, and (2) the moderating effect on this relationship of students’ academic field of study (i.e., their profession once graduated). Overall, results underscore the multidimensionality of the PSM construct, as the PSM dimension of “public interest” is positively associated with attraction to public sector employment and negatively associated with attraction to private sector employment, while the PSM dimension of “compassion” is unrelated to both. Importantly, however, moderation analyses reveal notable correlation differences across students’ academic fields. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of prior and future research.
International Public Management Journal, 2013, Vol 16, Issue 3, p. 357-385
Public Service Motivation; Public Sector Attraction; Self-Selection; Management